Flying Object Presents: Trinie Dalton

Trinnie Dalton
Trinnie Dalton

In his book Toward Reality, John Berger says the ideal critic would have “the historical perspective necessary” and “the imaginative appreciation necessary” to see outside one’s moment, the power to stand on the corner of the present and look both ways, assess one’s position in relation to traffic. “But in fact it is impossible.” All the critic can do is look, with painfully inadequate and subjective eyes, at the present. To see the opposite corner, look into it, understand it, and walk towards it without being flattened. And art is a busy street.

Trinie Dalton writes criticism, interviews artists, writes books of fiction, and spearheads artist books, including You Who Read Me with Passion Must Forever Be My Friends by visual and textual artist Dorothy Iannone, out recently from Siglio Press. Dalton exercises a malleable approach to her critical writing, working from ‘the inside,’ articulating the work of artists she knows. She sidesteps the need for speculation by transforming conversations with friends into critical work. But the worries of time, of faithfulness, of the need to be ‘critical,’ don’t abate. For her, criticism is a question of who gets to speak, and the ethical dilemma of having a voice.

Ianonne coined the term ‘ecstatic unity’ to define her artistic practice, and in her essay on Iannone, Dalton elucidates the concept, defining it as an “inversion (& merging) of male and female, muse and maker, sacred and profane, celestial and carnal, submission and dominance, compliment and insult, humor and earnestness,” which could just as easily apply to the chameleon work of the critic. To look at something and keep looking is an endurance test, a cross examination, sensual act, a merging of identities, a hilarious way to spend an afternoon, a leap of faith.

– Patrick Gaughan

Flying Object Presents: TRAUMA DOG

“Hotel California” plays at half speed as Cassandra Troyan and Rachel Ellison slow dance, one standing on the other’s feet. Classic Rock standard and childlike intimacy smash together, a song that emanates jukebox staleness slowed, almost unrecognizable, each guitar note seeping then dripping, as if from above, onto an embrace of feminine friendship. How would Don Henley interpret this? How do I?

Performance is an art of correspondences. Gesture with text. Image with song. Identity with conflicting identity, each new layer contorting the others, calling for reassessment. DADDY’S CAVE, the latest from performance duo TRAUMA DOG, attempts this non-hierarchical relationship between text, body, image, costume, sound. Honed while in residence this summer at Flying Object, Troyan and Ellison say the work starts with words, with each element then taking turns at center stage, overlapping contexts and superimposing signifiers. And as one moves through the chain of association, hopefully translation is lost, hopefully stereotypes seem nonsensical.

Outline on Wall

At one point, Ellison traces Troyan’s body on the wall, once with hands extended, once with hands behind her head, once with hands on hips. They step away, leaving the outline, an empty figure in three poses, a bevy of possible interpretations. In the hands extended, I see echoes of Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man,” a five hundred year old sketch that somehow still remains in the contemporary image bank. In the hands on hips, I see the power pose, also known as “The Wonder Woman.” Hands behind the head could read as someone under arrest, or as a pin-up, turning and winking. Each association gendered, all forming a cacophony of signifiers, every role at once.

– Patrick Gaughan


Flying Object Presents Andrew Beccone

Andrew Beconne
Andrew Beccone

Flying Object is a nonprofit art and publishing organization located in an old fire station in Hadley, Massachusetts. This Flying Object interview series will serve to document some of the writers, artists and performers that pass through—as well as activity in our own community.

One person’s rat brain is another’s treasure. At the Reanimation Library’s temporary branch at Flying Object, I flip through glossy x-rays of rat brains, charts of electrocardiogram wavelengths, of bird houses, of sea canyons. In the right hands, an image is never antiquated, though the mode of appreciation changes. I don’t pick up Differential Diagnosis of the Electrocardiogram to learn. The author’s original intent has come and gone. Instead, I watch a thought morph across time, suspended between the false poles of aesthetics and information, in a fluid of anthropological disconnect.

Some could view Andrew Beccone’s Reanimation Library as a collection of mid-20th century failure, post-war America slipping on a banana peel for the 21st century’s amusement, utopian ambition reduced to point-and-laugh novelty. In their time, these books mounted earnest attempts to solve the problems of the modern world: to catalog and understand experience from the clouds to the bedroom to the sea floor, to teach us who we are. And they failed, or were dismissed as quackery, or disproved. Science writes over itself.

So what to do with this discarded material? Beccone’s collection emerges from this dust, this atomic fallout. Over the course of 12 years, he has assembled an island of misfit toys, books from these post-war years to be appreciated for their images, their ambitious titles. He does not base selection on assigning cultural worth, some arbitrary canon based on “importance” or “relevance.” His library champions a contrary definition of timelessness.

And from the collection’s middle finger to “relevance” comes its charm and vitality. Edward Tufte, hero to Beccone and pioneer of data visualization, says, “The world is complex, dynamic, multidimensional; paper is static, flat. How are we to represent the rich visual world of experience and measurement on mere flatland?” Beccone collects these flat attempts, an undertaking arguably as preposterous as the utopian dreams of modernism. His books are as valiant as they are absurd, profound as they are crude, foolish and fascinating. —Patrick Gaughan

Patrick Gaughan: You say you chose the books mostly for their visual content: photographs, illustrations, diagrams. From my brief experience, the collection seems to lean towards the sciences, instructional material, outmoded theory. What genres do you find yourself including in the Library?

Flying Object Presents Patrick Gaughan and Eric Amling

Patrick Gaughan and Eric Amling
Patrick Gaughan and Eric Amling

Flying Object is a nonprofit art and publishing organization located in an old fire station in Hadley, Massachusetts. This Flying Object interview series will serve to document some of the writers, artists and performers that pass through—as well as activity in our own community.